Receiving a job rejection email can be a bummer and may be difficult to handle, especially when you’ve been looking forward to this opportunity. However, it doesn’t have to hold you back from responding.
But how does one respond to a rejection email? Would it be ok to request feedback? Is it still possible to make an impression on the hiring manager?
According to experts, these are the ways to respond to a job rejection email:
SVP of People and Workplace, Snagajob
You found what seemed like your dream job! You applied, made it through the interview process, and waited on pins and needles to hear back. And when you heard from the company, the message was, “Thank you for your time, but we’ve decided to go in a different direction.”
It can be so disappointing to read those words, and it’s tempting to hit delete on that note and never look back.
Instead, take the opportunity to respond. It’s a great way to continue to build your network and reinforce a good lasting impression with recruiters and hiring managers at that company.
You can do some easy things to make sure your follow-up note really resonates.
Thank them for letting you know the outcome of their decision
First and foremost, thank them! Show your appreciation at the very beginning of your letter for the time they took to meet with you, them considering you for the role, and for telling you more about the company.
You can also thank them for letting you know the outcome of their decision—frustratingly, not every company does this, so it’s worth calling out.
Ask for feedback in a respectful way
While some companies are reluctant to give candidates feedback on their interviews, asking in a structured, respectful way that doesn’t sound like you’re questioning their decision can be really helpful.
If you phrase it as an opportunity to learn or improve, you’re more likely to get some information that could be helpful to you in future interviews.
Reiterate your interest in the company
If you’d be interested in additional opportunities at that company, make sure to mention that. If there are specific things about the organization that stuck out to you as really positive, this is the time to mention those.
It can be tempting to ask them to contact you should a similar role arise, but instead, take the lead on this yourself.
Mention that you’ll continue to follow their work and will keep an eye on their careers page for other opportunities. This shows you’re proactive, and by following their work, you’ll be able to effectively demonstrate your knowledge about the company the next time you meet with them.
Stay in touch with the hiring manager
Connecting on LinkedIn can be a great way to keep in contact with interviewers or hiring managers you’ve met.
Adding a comment saying you’d like to stay in touch and will send an invite to connect again shows you’re proactive and committed to the organization. While you’re on LinkedIn, make sure you follow the organization, too, so you can stay up to date on what’s happening there.
Related: How to Network on LinkedIn
Here’s a sample letter you could use. Make sure you add specifics that are relevant to your situation.
Thank you for the opportunity to meet with the team, and please thank everyone for their time. I really appreciated the opportunity to learn about [Company], and the courtesy of letting me know your decision.
While I’m disappointed that I won’t be joining [Company] at this time, I remain very interested in your work and will continue to keep an eye on your careers page. [Add a sentence or two about relevant work that resonated with you here.]
If you have any feedback on my application or interview, I will welcome it. I’m sure any details you could provide would be valuable to my ongoing job search. In the meantime, I would love to stay in touch- I’ll send you an invite to connect on LinkedIn to make that easier.
Thank you again, and wish you and the team all the best.
So, remember – a job rejection doesn’t have to be all negative. Use a thoughtfully worded response letter as an invitation to stay in touch, and hopefully, it will help you land another opportunity at your dream company.
HR Manager, ResumeLab
It can be discouraging when you apply for a job and don’t get an interview, an offer, or even an acknowledgment that your application was received.
Rejection is part of the job application process, no matter what field you are applying to.
It’s also usually an indication that:
- You weren’t qualified for the job, or
- Perhaps they didn’t think you were a good culture fit.
The key is to not take it personally and continue with your job search. However, when you do get rejected after applying for a job, it still stings.
After all, you put yourself out there, did your best, and made time to ensure that your cover letter and resume were both polished and professional before sending them out.
Hopefully, this rejection was based on specific details about why you weren’t selected rather than just your general appearance or background in past jobs.
Read on to see how to respond to a job rejection email gracefully so that your efforts won’t go unnoticed by future potential employers.
Don’t delay: Send a thank you email
Even if you don’t know why you weren’t chosen for the position, you can send a thoughtful thank you email thanking the hiring manager for taking the time to look over your application materials.
Make sure that your tone is professional and that you don’t sound as though you are trying to butter them up to get them to reconsider you.
Simply thank them for their time and effort, and let them know that you are grateful for the opportunity and would enjoy the chance to learn more about the industry with them.
Take notes on why they decided not to hire you
While you aren’t guaranteed to get a rejection email, sometimes a hiring manager won’t acknowledge your application – even if they receive it. In those cases, it’s best not to be pushy but wait for them to get back in touch with you.
However, if you do get an email stating that you weren’t selected, take notes on why they decided not to hire you.
- If there are specific things on your resume or application that they mention, you can work on those areas before applying to other jobs.
- If there is nothing that you can pinpoint, there might be another reason for the rejection.
In either case, you can use these notes to guide you in tackling your next application.
Related: Why Won’t Anyone Hire Me?
Check for the hiring company’s reasons for not hiring you
While you should take notes on why you were rejected, you shouldn’t share those notes with the hiring manager when you respond to their rejection email.
Instead, you can use a general statement like:
“I appreciate your feedback, and I want to continue improving my resume and applications so that I can be an asset to your company.“
You might want to use this article’s examples of common hiring company reasons for not hiring someone:
- You lacked the skills and experience we were looking for.
- We didn’t think your background was a good fit for our company.
- You didn’t pass the personality or culture fit test.
- You didn’t have the education or training we wanted.
Ask what you can improve and what you did well
Depending on the hiring company, you might or might not get an answer to your question about what you did well or what you can improve on.
If the hiring manager is polite, they might respond to your question, but if they aren’t, don’t take it personally.
If you receive a curt or rude response to your question, you can politely ask them to reread your application materials and then end the email with a gracious thanks again.
Dominique Zenaida Pinder
Former Human Resources Assistant, Adecco Canada | Founder and CEO, Digital Creator Domz
Responding to job rejection emails is just as important as responding to job offer emails from potential employers. Oftentimes, these unfavorable emails are just polite ways for hiring managers to inform you that they chose another candidate for the role.
Thus, they do not automatically signal that the company regards you as an “unfit” candidate. Moreover, if your response is impressive, chances are you’ll be the candidate next in line for future openings.
Based on my HR experience, here is a guide on how you should respond to job rejection emails.
Express gratitude for the email correspondence
Yes, receiving a job rejection email is not ideal. Nevertheless, the first step you should take when replying is to thank the sender for informing you of their decision.
Many companies are infamous for not updating rejected candidates, opting to communicate solely with chosen candidates. Therefore, being fortunate not to be left in the dark is a justifiable reason to thank the sender for the email correspondence at the outset.
Show appreciation for the interview opportunity
Thanking the hiring manager for shortlisting your resume and meeting with you is another excellent step to take when replying to job rejection emails.
The interview process is highly time-consuming and challenging for hiring managers. Therefore, acknowledging their efforts to accommodate you demonstrates that you are considerate and leaves a lasting impression.
Highlight something admirable about the company or the interviewer
Ideally, somewhere in the body of the email, you should mention something positive about the company or the interviewer. Doing this shows the hiring manager that you have no ill feelings towards them or the company.
Moreover, it makes it less intimidating and awkward for company officials to correspond with you in the future.
Plant seeds for future opportunities
Tactfully introduce the idea of you working for the company at a later stage within your response.
Lay the groundwork for this by letting the hiring manager know that although they did not select you for the position, you would appreciate it if they kept you in mind for any subsequent openings or similar roles within the business.
Ask for feedback or pointers; show that you are receptive to constructive criticism
Before you close the email, ask the hiring manager if you made any mistakes during the interview and application stages or ask for advice on how to thrive in future recruitment settings.
Doing this will show the hiring manager that you are receptive to constructive criticism and willing to accept guidance.
Finish the email on a positive note
The closing of your email response is just as critical as the first paragraph. You should, therefore, strive to conclude the email on a high note.
Do this by reiterating your gratitude for the email correspondence, letting the hiring manager know that you would like to stay in touch with them, and politely wishing them well.
Example of a response to a job rejection email
Dear [Hiring Manager name],
Thank you for getting in touch with me regarding your hiring decision. Even though it is disappointing to learn that [Organization] did not choose me for the [Job] position, I would like to thank you for the time you took to schedule interviews with me, learn about my skill set, and answer my questions.
Indeed, it was a pleasure to talk to you and get a glimpse into [Organization’s] stellar organizational culture.
I would appreciate it if you kept me in mind for suitable roles at [Organization] when they become available.
Additionally, I would appreciate any insights you could share regarding my application and interview that could help me succeed in future job searches. I am always looking for ways to enhance my professional skills, and I believe this feedback would be tremendously valuable.
Thank you again, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require any further information from my end.
Have a fantastic day!
Content and Marketing Manager, SpeakingNerd
All of us appear for several interviews in the course of our careers and lives. Even if we convert our very first job interview, we would still want to appear for more interviews in the future when we look to switch organizations.
Needless to say, when it comes to the outcome of the interview, it can go either way. Thus, acceptance and rejection are parts and parcel of life.
When we get a job rejection email, it is certainly disheartening, but sometimes, it is inevitable.
Let’s say 200 candidates apply to two vacancies for a product manager in an MNC. Clearly, 198 out of those 200 candidates will receive a rejection email from the company because, ultimately, only two people are walking away with the job.
But then, that is not the end of the road, right? If you get a rejection from one organization, the heavens will surely have better plans for you.
What we are going to look at here is how you can respond to a job rejection email.
Express gratitude for allowing you to make your claim to the job title
Out of basic professional courtesy or to seek clarifications, you should definitely respond to the rejection email. When you frame that response, you should first express gratitude for allowing you to make your claim to the job title on offer.
For instance, your response should start this way:
“Greetings, in all my humility, I would like to express sheer gratitude to your esteemed organization for allowing me to be interviewed for this role.”
You never know, you may have to apply to the same organization in the future, and this courtesy will certainly help. Otherwise, to give an impression of your professional conduct, you should express your thankfulness.
Seek clarity on the same in a humble and modest way
Moving further, in case the rejection email does not clearly specify the exact reason for rejection, you should seek clarity on the same in a humble and modest way.
If you have invested your time in the interview process, that is the least you can ask for. In fact, you are entitled to know that.
But how you put it across is important. It should not seem like you are arguing because that would severely hurt your future prospects of applying to the same organization.
You can ask this along similar lines:
“While I completely respect the management’s decision, I would want to know the reasons for my rejection in the form of proper feedback.
Knowing the same will be valuable for my career, and I can identify my shortcomings to work on them for a secure career. It would be very generous of you if you could share the reasons for my rejection which I will perceive constructively.”
Express your openness to receiving future job notifications from the company
Further, in your response to the rejection email, you should also express your openness to receiving future job notifications from the company for the same role or a different role that is more tailored to your skills, knowledge, and experience.
This will give the recruiters a strong impression that you have a strong zeal to work for the organization despite the rejection.
You never know, you may get an interview call from the same company a few months later. You should always keep the door of opportunities open for you, after all.
Wish good luck to the company as a token of courtesy
In the end, you should express your warm regards and wish good luck to the company as a token of courtesy. Remember, you should not make the recruiters feel that this rejection fiddled with your confidence or spirit.
You need to stay upbeat and positive. The same needs to be reflected in your response to the rejection email.
Business Coach and Leadership Mentor | Founder, Lattice & Co
Recognize the employer’s attempts to alert you of your rejection
Responding to a job rejection letter might reveal information about your personality. It demonstrates that you are a professional who is sincerely committed to obtaining employment.
Your answer to a job rejection email can also assist you in maintaining a personal relationship with the hiring manager, allowing you to follow up with them later.
Displaying thankfulness reveals your social qualities. Your pleasant personality would attract the recruiting manager to hire you again in the future.
Because of your nice demeanor, he would also open up to you about potential chances.
You might thank the organization in a variety of ways, including:
- Recognize the employer’s attempts to alert you of your rejection and guide you through the whole process.
- Express your appreciation for meeting them and learning about their company.
Co-Founder, eBusiness Institute
Ensure that they know you want the door to remain open
The first thing to keep in mind is that a job rejection is not a closed door. It does not mean your career progression has come to a halt or even that opportunities with the respective company are out of the question forever.
It simply means that, for whatever reason, you were not a good fit at that specific time.
For that reason, it is always important to ensure they know that you want the door to remain open when responding to a rejection.
Make it clear that despite this role not working out, you’re open to other roles and hope to be considered in the future. This shows the company that you are actually interested in working for them and that they were not just another application.
This also maintains a relationship with the organization, so you won’t just be an unknown candidate if you choose to apply for other openings.
An example could look like this:
Thank you for getting back to me about your decision. I appreciate the team for taking the time to consider me for the role and making me learn more about the company.
While this position may not have aligned with my skills at this point, I am highly interested in your organization and would love to be considered for any future roles that may open up.
Thank you again for your consideration, and I wish [company name] all the best.
Executive Résumé Writer & Outplacement Services Provider
Understand that it’s an opportunity to show professionalism during a difficult time
Receiving a rejection email for a job you were excited to apply to is the worst. It can lead to a loss of confidence and questioning your career path.
We’ve all received these at some point, and they’re no fun. The smartest candidates, however, understand that a rejection email is also an opportunity.
It’s an opportunity to show professionalism during a difficult time and keep your hat in the ring for other openings.
I’ve had many clients who responded to a rejection email in a kind, professional way that led to them:
- being selected for a different job at the same company,
- receiving a call-back when the original choice didn’t work out some months later, or
- being selected by the recruiter for another role they’re filling.
Often these roles are even better (title, salary, culture) than the original one. If you need to step away and take some time to regroup before responding, take that time.
Then respond, keeping it above board and remembering that:
- This is a relationship that can ultimately help you and
- Email is forever.
Here’s a template to help you get started:
Dear [Recruiter/Hiring Manager name]
Thank you for your time interviewing me/reviewing my candidacy for the [Job title] position at [Company]. While I’d like to move forward in this search, I understand your process.
At this time, I’d like to be considered for other roles with [X company] [or] as a [Job title]. I know my [list skills, strengths, impact here] will be a huge asset to my next employer.
Can you keep my information on file and contact me with any similar openings? In the meantime, I’ll connect with you on LinkedIn, so I can see any new roles you may post there.
Thank you again, and have a great week/weekend.
Job Search Expert and Career Advice Writer, My Perfect Resume
Leave a good impression; you need to stay classy
You never know what the future brings. The company you applied to may contact you after some time with another job offer. Sounds unrealistic? I had thought the same before it happened to me.
Having first-hand experience with such a surprising “professional plot twist,” I assure you that no matter how disappointed, frustrated, or angry about not getting the job you feel, you need to stay classy.
Leave a good impression. Thank the recruiter for their time and write a few kind words about the whole recruitment process. It costs nothing and may pay off.
Express your interest if future recruitment
Show your genuine interest in applying for a similar position in the future. Sometimes the decision on who to hire is made—at the further stages than sending application documents, of course—between just a few candidates.
For example, three people are brilliant matches for the company, but the one who is chosen has the greatest experience in the given field. Leave a door open. Life is unpredictable, and so are the career paths that we follow.
Thank you for the information and your time. I see this recruitment process as a precious experience, even though I am not the candidate you choose.
Kindly note that I am open to any future recruitment for a similar position. Feel free to contact me if you believe I can be the right candidate so I can apply then.
[Your full name]
Thank you for the opportunity to take part in your recruitment process. I find it very professional and well-structured, so I appreciate this experience.
Please note that I am open to any future recruitment for similar positions.
Once again, thank you for your time.
[Your full name]
Founder and Managing Director, MTD Training
Ask what they would recommend to make yourself more appealing to future opportunities
I always would respond to a job rejection email with gratitude, even if I was discouraged by the decision.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate or even take up a ton of time, but do not burn this bridge for no reason. Because, in the end, what are you going to change at this point?
In a short email, I would simply thank them for their time and consideration and move along. If you’d like, feel free to ask them if there was anything else you could have done to be a better fit for the position or what they would recommend I do in order to make me more appealing to future opportunities.
I appreciate the chance to interview, and, while I was disappointed, I thank you for letting me know about your decision. I hope to have an opportunity to interview again in the future.
If there’s anything you felt I was missing in my resume or something I could do to make myself appealing for future opportunities with a similar role, I would love to get your feedback.
Thanks again, and all the best.
As soon as a job rejection email comes through, I’m onto my next task, and I’m not going to waste any more time on it. A job interview is a valuable experience, and you can’t regret your time on a specific process, but don’t dwell on it or spend more time on it after receiving the news.
Move on and get the next one, but take 2 minutes to send a short, simple email like the one above.
Community Manager, LiveCareer
Ask for feedback: Knowing what you’re missing in your profile can help you advance your skills
Job rejection is always hard to swallow. It’s easy to simply ignore the rejection email and move on to look for another job. However, job rejection offers a great opportunity to learn and improve your job-hunting skills.
That’s why you should ask for feedback after the company informs you that they have chosen another candidate. Knowing what you’re missing in your profile can help you advance your skills and guide you in which direction you should go to bring your career to the next level.
You can frame your email like this:
Dear [Recruiter’s name],
Thank you for your email and the time you took to consider me as a candidate for the role of [Position’s name] at [Company’s name].
As my goal is to improve my professional skills constantly, I wanted to ask you for feedback regarding my application. I’d really appreciate it if you could provide me with details of what I missed to get a job at your company.
That way, I can improve my job-hunting skills and advance my knowledge in crucial areas for the [Industry type] industry.
I look forward to hearing from you.
For example, the recruiter may say that you are missing the digital marketing experience that other candidates have. In that case, you can enroll in an online course or attend some SEO conferences to help you gain more knowledge in that field.
Also, HR professionals like to see that you are proactive about your application at their company.
When they see that you ask for feedback and genuinely want to improve, they can even consider you for another position in the future or offer you a different role that you’re more suited for.
CEO and Managing Partner, The Dominguez Firm
Nothing beats politeness
Job applications nowadays are easier than before. You can simply send an email to the company where you want to apply. Of course, expect them to respond via email as well.
Not all the time we are all lucky to receive invitations for interviews.
There will always be a time of rejection, and this part is something that we should all welcome positively that the company took the time to consider your application. They may have gotten another applicant who has more working experience than you or is more qualified.
Once you receive a rejection, start by thanking them for their time considering your application. Nothing beats politeness. You can ask them to refer you or notify you if there will be other openings or other employment opportunities.
“Thank you for considering my application.
If you have other job opportunities, may I please know? Or, if there will be other vacancies, can you please check if I am qualified?“
Then leave your contact details. Do not completely close your door to them. Make yourself accessible.
Director, Internet Advisor
Tell them how much you value the company and you would love the chance to work there in the future
How you respond to a job rejection email will depend on how badly you wanted the job and how the company rejected you.
In terms of how badly you wanted the job, I know a lot of people tend to apply to jobs that they aren’t actually that interested in. In these cases, you probably shouldn’t respond to the email anyway.
If you’re applying for a job you’re not interested in, you’re wasting your own time and the company’s time.
If, however, you’re applying to a job that you’re very excited about, a great way to respond to a rejection email is to tell them how much you value the company and that you would love the chance to work there in the future.
Ask them to keep your information for potential consideration in the future. Not all companies will actually do this, but for that chance that they will, it could land you the job when they end up looking again.
As for the way the company sends the email, some companies send out generic, seemingly automated emails to the people they reject.
In these cases, you’ll need to ask yourself:
“If they take this little care in the way they reject applications, do they take the same sort of approach in terms of how much they value their employees?“
You’ll need to decide if you think it’s worth replying to.
Just to add to this last point – I believe companies need to personalize rejection emails as much as possible.
Sure, sometimes you’re dealing with hundreds of applications, which can be frustrating. But even a little bit of personalization here and there goes a long way and shows people that you appreciate them taking the time to apply for the job.
Founder and CEO, TrumpExcel
Acknowledge your disappointment and request feedback
My opinion is that your answer to a job rejection should be a little more than a few sentences expressing your appreciation, acknowledging your disappointment, and requesting feedback if you desire it.
Examine this sample to determine the specifics of your job rejection response:
To whom it may concern:
[Thank the interviewer for responding to your email and for giving you the chance to speak with them]
[Mention how disappointed you are that you won’t be able to work for the company, but make the email positive and professional]
[Ask to be considered for any future possibilities that the interviewer deems you to be a better fit for]
[Use this part, if you want, to get feedback on your interviewing abilities or resume format. [Reiterate your gratitude to the interviewer for the chance]
[Your initials and surname]
Managing Director, Nexus IT Group
Make every effort to keep a cheerful and courteous tone
I would advise thanking the interviewers in the opening paragraph of the follow-up email after a job rejection. This is especially true if the candidate made it to a second or final interview, indicating that the employer spent considerable time considering them for the position.
If you happen to meet the panel of interviewers and hiring managers in the future, showing them appreciation could be the deciding factor in your employment prospects.
Second, the applicant should express their disappointment at not receiving the position in a few concise phrases. The candidate should make every effort to keep a cheerful and courteous tone throughout this portion.
Dear [name of Hiring Manager],
Thank you for your input regarding the hiring decision. I am especially appreciative of the interview panel for taking the time not only to interview me but also to educate me on the many things I did not know about your organization.
While I am unhappy that my qualifications were not nearly sufficient to qualify for the position, I am still interested in working for your organization. I am willing to be considered for any position you deem fit based on my qualifications.
I wish you and your firm continued success in your endeavors.
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